The FCC has unanimously voted to open up 100MHz of spectrum at the bottom end of the 5GHz band, redesignating them as open spectrum, under rules similar to those that created the original Wifi boom. Previously, the spectrum had been exclusively allocated to a satellite telephony company. Adding more open spectrum is amazingly great news, and even better is the bipartisan support for the move, which was attended by very promising-sounding remarks from commissioners from both parties about the value of open spectrum as a source of innovation and public value.
The FCC vote opens those unlicensed airwaves so they can be used by consumer electronics equipment, including Wi-Fi routers. With the new airwaves, Wi-Fi equipment can handle more traffic at higher speeds.
"This items transforms the spectrum from virtually unusable to usable for Wi-Fi," Wheeler said.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who's a vocal advocate of opening up unlicensed airwaves to create opportunities for experimentation and innovation, pointed to unlicensed airwaves' economic benefit, which is already at $140 billion annually.
FCC votes to boost Wi-Fi [Kate Tummarello/The Hill]